BlueScope gets approval for executive pay

BlueScope Steel escaped a board spill at yesterday's annual general meeting after shareholders endorsed this year's approach to executive pay.

After two consecutive $1 billion annual losses, the company also confirmed it expected to remain in the red for the six months to December 31.

"We expect an underlying net loss after tax approaching break even for the first half," chairman Graham Kraehe said.

"I am confident that our new business structure will help us meet our objectives of returning your business to sustained profitability, and that we can look ahead to a new period of growth and opportunity."

BlueScope undertook a major review of its executive pay policy after shareholders at least year's annual general meeting delivered a 39 per cent vote against its remuneration report, which included $3 million in bonuses to directors and executives.

A vote of 25 per cent or higher against this year's report would have triggered a board spill.

However, the vast majority of votes cast yesterday supported the remuneration report, which included a 52 per cent pay reduction for chief executive officer Paul O'Malley from about $4 million to about $2 million.

Mr O'Malley said BlueScope had delivered on its plans for the year and was well positioned for growth.

The company continued to face challenges in Australia including weak demand and the strong dollar, but still expected the coated and industrial products business to make a "positive contribution" in the second half of this financial year, he said.

He said an investment of almost $50 million in manufacturing facilities this year to deliver the next generation of Colorbond and Zincalume products was "an investment in our future and commitment to the Australian market".

Proceeds from its $1.36 billion joint venture with Japan's Nippon Steel were expected in the March quarter next year.

Mr Kraehe said the joint venture would "fast-forward" BlueScope's entry to new Asian markets like painted steel for whitegoods.

He said the company had spent almost 50 years establishing its Asian businesses.

"We are now seeing the rewards of that foresight as our Asian businesses continue to perform well and we see further growth opportunities in our markets there," he said.

In Australia, he said BlueScope was concerned about the dumping of low-cost foreign steel, and was pushing for reform to anti-dumping laws.

It was a priority to resume paying dividends when the business turned a profit, he said.

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